The idea behind a Raptor is to go fast on uneven terrain. So if you are going to pick one area to upgrade for the 2019 Ford Raptor, smarter shocks with continuous damping control make sense. Additional off-road systems, the Raptor’s first Recaro seats, and the option to order the truck in Ford Performance Blue join the parade for the new model year.
Ford Performance blue—the one on the Raptor concept—is now one of three new colors for 2019 and it is exclusive to Raptor within the F-150 family. The other colors, which are shared with the F-150, are Velocity Blue and Agate Black. The automaker is retiring Lightning Blue, Avalanche (a whitish gray), and Shadow Black.
Also gone is the orange interior. Choices now include standard black or the new Light Speed Blue borrowed from the Ford GT. The shade is used for the Recaro seats with blue Alcantara inserts that are being offered for the first time as part of a package that includes carbon-fiber trim on the doors, dash, and shifter.
Since Raptor is all about performance, especially off-road, Ford continues to use shocks from Fox Racing which has been a supplier since the original 2010 Raptor. For the 2019 model year, the performance desert racing pickup switches to electronically controlled live-valve Fox Racing Shox with infinite compressions for continuous damping.
The suspension architecture is unchanged with the same control arm and bushings, but Ford added front ride height sensors in addition to sensors in the body of the truck and the suspension.
The advancement is in the dampers and Ford developed the controls in-house, said F-150 Raptor vehicle dynamics lead Chris Paiva. There are different algorithms for normal, sport and off-road and they work with the Terrain Management System. The tech reads the terrain and the control unit sends a command every millisecond to adjust the dampers accordingly. It allows the wheels to move freely when warranted and the shocks get stiffer when needed to prevent the truck from bottoming out. Jump mode and Loud Pedal mode recognize more aggressive throttle and the shocks stiffen to brace for impact. All of it is done automatically.
“Not many trucks need sensors to detect when you are midair,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director, Ford Performance vehicle programs. “Raptor sets the dampers to full stiffness to help smooth shock performance as the truck lands.”
Suspension travel remains the same at 13 inches in front and 13.9 inches at the rear. Likewise, approach and departure angles are unchanged.
Ford also adds a New Trail Control system for low-speed off-roading that takes over throttle and brake inputs; allowing the driver to concentrate on steering. This off-road cruise control can be activated at speeds up to 20 mph.
Other tweaks: the giant FORD badge across the tailgate is a new applique where the letters are more three-dimensional to stand out.
And buyers have a choice of regular or optional beadlock-capable wheels and can order a ring set for the beadlock wheels from Ford Performance. The wheels are still 17-inch with 35-inch tires.
The second-generation Raptor went on sale for the 2017 model year with a new steel and aluminum body and a high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V-6 replacing the 6.2-liter V-8. It also switched to Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission.
The new model goes on sale late this year. Pricing has not been announced.